Why choose a career in Agronomy

After experiencing a variety of areas of agriculture through the National FFA organization, Ally Babcock explains why she has chosen to pursue a career in Agronomy.

FFA member in South Africa learning about Agronomy.
July 7, 2017 by National FFA Organization

Why choose a career in Agronomy

After experiencing a variety of areas of agriculture through the National FFA organization, Ally Babcock explains why she has chosen to pursue a career in Agronomy.

It’s a common question as high school students like myself reach graduation: “What do you want to do?” If you can manage an intelligent sounding response to that question the next one is always, “Why do you want to do that?” When I attempt to respond to this in a conversation that is usually based on polite small talk, my answer feels like it doesn’t quite summarize the experiences I’ve had well enough. Why am I majoring in Agronomy this fall? Why do I care so much about international agriculture?

How do I put into words the impact watching farmers plant a field in Haiti had on me four years ago? How do I summarize seeing the impact that poverty had on good people who were close to my family seven years ago as a kid in living in Jamaica? More so, when I met individuals from all over Africa who were passionate about both agriculture and people, how do I communicate the tremendous difference that was made in my future goals?

As an AGCO FFA scholarship recipient, I did my best to explain this when AGCO reached out to me about my experiences. Now I’m going to do it again for whoever might be reading this. I’ve been involved with FFA throughout high school and have always cared deeply about a variety of areas in agriculture. For my Supervised Agriculture Experience I raised show and market lambs, worked on my grandparents’ row crop operation, and was employed during the summers at a local sweet corn and vegetable farm. While these things gave me an insight to the agriculture industry, I had a very hard time focusing on one thing that I truly enjoyed most and would like to turn into a career.

This changed the spring of my junior year as I began to research agriculture in developing nations for the World Food Prize. I specifically studied the effects of soil health on food security in Zambia. While researching, I had the opportunity to learn from a non-profit organization called Agri-Hope that specifically works in Zambia.

A few months after completing my research, I was asked to travel to South Africa for a two-week long soil conservation and farm training in the village of Keiskammahoek. There, I met people who worked with farmers in numerous countries in Africa. They showed me, through their kind-hearted actions and passion for what they did, that the goal of their work was not to convince people to do agriculture the “right way”, but simply in a way that would be most beneficial and prosperous to each farmer. This opportunity taught me a tremendous amount about international agriculture, but also showed me how much crop growth and responsible soil management is crucial to ending a cycle of poverty.

Prior to this experience, I had spent time in Haiti with my church for village restoration projects and lived in Jamaica during my elementary years with my family. Each of these experiences combined form the pull that is on my heart to see agriculturalists around the world succeed in what they do. That is why I’m studying Agronomy- to learn more about an area of agriculture that is important to farmers everywhere.

Written by: Ally Babcock

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